It occurs to me that the main thing about this phone is not the product scanning app or any technical feature, but the on call live technical support and help. Tech savvy people like engineers may have no sensitivity to the issue, but elderly people find smartphones truly bewildering, and the market of elderly people is set to blow up with the 77 million or so baby boomers aging and retiring. Handing your parents or pre-PC/internet generation friends an iphone or android and letting them at it is an almost guaranteed recipe for failure. This fire phone may make a real difference if they can just figure out that one feature.
@Bert22306 that's a really interesting point that both phones are starting on AT&T's network, where historically AT&T was the original telecom monopoly.
The lack of general technical know-how and cost of always-on computing (using their modem on a phone line) that started the vast majority of the public with getting locked in to aol, hotmail and now gmail was prohibitive at first. But now the technology exists to give every consumer who can afford a device with the strength of a tv set top box their own private e-mail server (for instance, iredmail makes the somewhat advanced setup of a linux postfix/dovecot installation somewhat easy, a bit of scripting and tweaked UI added to that would make it dead simple). Corporations are just busier working on profit and widening their economic moats (the technical term for the euphemistic 'walled garden') than working for the public good, so it's just a matter of a startup or two bridging the gap and getting going to do what's right.
I recently signed up for a microsoft service thinking I needed it to download some software - and not only did they begin to spam me without notice, but they had no option within the web interface to opt-out of the emails, nor to cancel the service. I had to make a phone call and get transferred to a separate department and then work through email until they finally told me it was resolved, and there STILL seems to be an error where they just sent me another email welcoming me in!
It's really creepy that companies can legally do this mousetrap-style engineered lock-in to create captive human audiences.
When an idea or product is original and useful, it needs to be promoted and why not? some money needs to be made. But once companies have served their true purpose of improving the life of the public and it gets twisted into a mission of creating personal empires to put mankind into chains.. even chains that are entertaining and bargain priced (fishing has never worked with just hooks) something needs to change. Multinational corporations have in some ways grown beyond the regulational power of national governments, but without accountability, the infrastructure and walls being built around us (with most people's assumption that they are there to protect us) might have no exit when the edifice starts burning down.
"This is about a portable shopping scanner that works for Amazon."
Indeed, almost like a set-top box that automatically tunes to the shopping channels and makes the user jump through extra hoops to access other channels.
@Karen, agreed. But not only that, it implies the death of smaller CE companies whose designers have spent countless hours, striving to create products that work with other apps, accessaries and sevices.
Hi, Bert. You are absolutely right about the identical business mode -- both Apple and Amazon --l for pushing the walled garden approach. Now that Apple has proven that it works for them, now Amazon, too, is following the model.
This trend is very discocerting to me. The bigger the company is, the more power the comapny has to create their own world, and to have its own way.
Whatever happened to the engineering mission (at least among a lot of CE companies) to design products that can work well with others?
Junko, I basically agree with your objections, but what I don't understand is, why didn't the same objections apply to the iPhone?
Both companies try to create walled gardens. Both companies' phones were initially only available on AT&T. So okay, this Fire Phone seems overly obsessed with shopping (heaven only knows, enough of the public is too!), but I think of that only as Amazon's special twist. The basic formula is identical to what Apple has been peddling for years. Why only object now?
Hi Junko, count me as another one who can't get along without Gmail or Google maps (afteralll, I carry an Android phone!).
I am sure there will be hacks of 3D object recognition via scanning with the Fire Phone and they will be directed towards many uses other than shopping! As of now there are still no cost-effective yet powerful hand-held 3D scanners in the market. Fire Phone could become one!